Keck Medicine bans visitors, enhances coronavirus screenings

Keck will no longer allow its medical students to participate in clinical rounds or make direct contact with patients amid increased precautions due to the spread of the coronavirus. (Vincent Leo | Daily Trojan)

Keck Hospital and Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center have implemented a no-visitor policy to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, Keck Medicine of USC announced Wednesday. The policy is among the measures the medical center is taking to mitigate the pandemic’s damage after a Keck Medical Center employee tested positive for the virus Monday.

Exceptions to the no-visitor policy will be made for patients in critical or terminal condition, a Keck a Wednesday press release stated. Elective surgeries may be delayed during the pandemic, although decisions to postpone procedures will be made on an individual basis.

Beginning last week, all Keck patients are being screened for the coronavirus and recommended for appropriate treatment when necessary. All caregivers at Keck Medicine have been authorized to conduct telemedicine appointments to reduce the number of people in the medical facilities.

“All of our procedures are developed for the maximum safety and care of our patients,” Keck Medicine Chief Medical Officer Dr. Stephanie Hall said in the press release. “The ability of our providers to provide virtual visits is an especially important development as we fight this outbreak.”

The medical centers will also reduce the number of entrances and screen for fever at each entry point. Visitors and patients with respiratory symptoms, including sore throat, cough or runny nose, will receive a mask and a clinical evaluation.

Keck medical students will no longer work directly with patients and have stopped clinical rotations indefinitely. Staff at Keck Medicine are banned from domestic and international work-related travel, and individuals who leave the country will be tested for the coronavirus upon their return.

“As COVID-19 spreads, we will continue to take all necessary precautions to protect our patients, staff and community and to effectively manage this virus,” Keck Medical Center CEO and Keck Medicine Chief Operations Officer Rodney Hanners said in the press release.

Los Angeles County confirmed 128 new cases of the coronavirus Monday, bringing the county total to 536 cases and seven deaths. California has more than 2,000 cases to date, the fourth most of any U.S. state.